Coming Up for Air

pearlsComing Up for Air

I.
My little sister may not win her battle with cancer.
She says God asked her, Will you take a bullet for
your son? To her it means, Will you give your child
a life of strength, wisdom born of losing his mother?

When she speaks I hear the surf begin to roar.
The tide inside threatens to push me over.

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Guest Post: The Rituals We (Still) Perform

by Liz Johnson

My grandmother is dying.

Her cancer is incurable, and has spread to the degree that she has been given mere months to live. And so, with her mortal time rapidly closing, family and friends alike have flocked to her side to spend a few precious moments with a truly remarkable woman.

There could be no better tribute to a life well-lived than the outpouring of love that my grandmother has received in these past few weeks. Family members have flown across the country to sit by her side. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people calling to check in on her and to express their love. Almost every flat surface in her home has a vase of fresh flowers sitting on it, and her freezer is stocked to the gills with soup and other food brought to her by friends and ward members. Her door is being graced several times daily by friends and neighbors, wishing to express their love to her and to hug her at least one more time.

I realize that it’s not an unusual thing for a person to lose a grandparent – it’s the natural cycle of things. I have lost two before her. But yet the impending loss of this woman has affected me so profoundly.

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Guest Post: Managing Life’s Winters

Amish in Winter by Evan Tye PetersonGuest Post by Shelli

It was 16 years ago. The 21st of December was a typical New England winter day with snow and ice already making their regular appearance, and I was writing a talk. However, this was not an ordinary talk I was preparing. Not a neatly packaged sacrament sermon or a personal testimony. Rather, through a torrent of tears and profound sorrow, I was summoning God for hope and peace through words, as we buried one of our beloved young women. Not only was it winter, but it was truly a season of death and sadness that came with a jolting chill to my soul, and to the souls of all who loved Oeun.

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Relief Society Lesson Intro: The Life and Ministry of Joseph Fielding Smith

260-Joseph F Smith coverThis section, “The Life and Ministry of Joseph Fielding Smith,” isn’t technically a lesson, but I think it provides helpful background and can prepare the class for the upcoming year of lessons and may be taught as a first Sunday lesson by the Relief Society presidency. The Historical Summary of President Smith’s life can be found here and is also helpful in giving us some background of his life.

Because this lesson gives an overview of President Smith’s life, there’s not a lot of need for innovation. Consider having various members of the class retell the stories in this section. Examine the chapters covered this year–Are President Smith’s messages different than the other prophets we’ve covered? If so, how? (The section in this chapter, “President of the Church” also indicates topics that were favorites of his to speak on.)

In these lessons, The Exponent blog works to bring out women’s voices and influence. Some points to note in this chapter:

  • President Smith’s mother, Julina Lambson Smith, was the second wife of Joseph Fielding Smith. She worked to support her children as a midwife. She delivered nearly 1000 babies in her career without ever having a mother or infant die in childbirth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Fielding_Smith).
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Temple Issue Extras: Dressing Grandma for the Temple

Los Angeles Temple by Ashmae HoilandWe had so many lovely submissions for our Summer 2013 Temple issue and couldn’t pack them all into 44 pages. (Order yours by Monday, September 2nd to ensure that you don’t miss this touching issue.) Special thanks to Ashmae Hoiland who has allowed us to use some watercolors of temples in this series on the blog (and in the magazine). More of Ashmae’s work can be found at her website, http://www.ashmae.com/.

Grandma spilled the beans when she walked me through the temple ceremony.  Scene by scene, she detailed what would occur during my upcoming endowment, omitting only explicitly secret portions.  The imagery and specific eccentricities of the rituals were all new to me.  As I earnestly listened to her I was fascinated with how different the temple was from any other church experience.  Grandma’s first time through the temple had been disastrous.  She was ill-prepared and blindsided by its novelty.  She compartmentalized her confusion, compliantly wore her garments, and continued to attend church.  It took 20 years, and her son going on a mission, before she would go back to the temple for a second try.   My grandma’s genuine concern and preparation help altered the way I experienced the temple. Thanks to grandma, I felt prepared.

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